The adventure of returning to the Moon begins with the successful launch of Artemis I

16 November 2022

On Wednesday November 16th, the launch pad 39B at Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center saw the successful launch of the first Artemis mission, a NASA programme with the collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA) aimed at taking the first woman and the next man to the Moon and, one day, reaching Mars

The Space Launch System (SLS) took flight with Orion, the new space vehicle that will spend the next weeks testing all the systems in space. During this initial unmanned mission, Orion will reach the Moon, orbit our satellite and then return to Earth in December, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. 

“The launch of the first Artemis mission opens a new era of space exploration. Going back to the Moon to establish a permanent human presence is very ambitious, but feasible”, says Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo Space Coordinator. “We at Leonardo have demonstrated that we have all the skills required to support the missions of European and worldwide space agencies and to develop a sustainable Lunar Economy: from the orbiting infrastructure and pressurised modules produced by Thales Alenia Space to enabling technologies such as the robotics and sensors developed in Leonardo’s plants and Telespazio’s telecommunication and navigation services.”

The great adventure on the Moon requires infrastructure, artificial intelligence, robotics, connectivity, services and operations – competences offered by Leonardo, together with the joint ventures Telespazio (67% Leonardo, 33% Thales) and Thales Alenia Space (67% Thales, 33% Leonardo).

Meanwhile, the antennas at the Telespazio's Fucino Space Centre, together with the Italian Space Agency, will be following the journey of the Orion spacecraft around the Moon. With parabolic dishes of eleven meters in diameter, the antennas will receive real-time radio signals from Orion, which will travel up to 448,000 km away from the Earth, helping to track its trajectory. The data collected by the Fucino Space Centre will then be shared with NASA via the communications infrastructure ASINET, of which Telespazio is one of the main industrial partners, to demonstrate the ability to support the tracking of future space exploration missions to the Moon and, in the future, to Mars.